Wondolowski leads MLS All-Stars past Chelsea


Wondolowski leads MLS All-Stars past Chelsea

CHESTER, Pa. -- Eddie Johnson scored in the 91st minute to give the Major League Soccer All-Stars a 3-2 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday night.Chris Wondolowski and Chris Pontius also scored goals for the MLS All-Stars at PPL Park, the home of the Philadelphia Union.Frank Lampard and John Terry scored for Chelsea, the touring English Premier League team, selected to play in the All-Star game.Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham received the loudest pregame ovation only hours after arriving from London. Beckham, his pink shoes as bright as the lights that lit up the field, was set to head back to London immediately after the game because he has a role in the opening ceremony at the Olympics.Beckham thrilled the fans when he set up for a free kick, though the ball was headed out. Beckham failed to score on his subsequent corner kick.For the rest of the All-Stars who aren't London bound, playing just outside Philadelphia was the next best thing. Plus, there was a taste of London outside of PPL Park where the globally popular Blues had a pair of championship trophies stationed in a tent and a line of fans waiting to pose next to them for some pictures.Fans packed the entertainment area where kids could kick around balls, and everyone from Tony Meola to Freddy Adu signed autographs.A stadium-record 19,236 fans packed the state-of-the-art stadium nestled on the bank of the Delaware River.The Sons of Ben, the Union's popular fan club, beat drums and sang songs all game long, then led a rousing ovation when Union defender Carlos Valdes checked in off the bench. They also made a "Landykake" sign in the form of the logo of Philadelphia's popular Tastykake snack line.The fans also delighted in chanting "your captain is a racist" at Terry. Terry, the Chelsea captain, was acquitted July 13 in London's Westminster Magistrates' Court of charges he racially abused Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game last October.D.C United coach Ben Olsen led the MLS All-Stars and saw a familiar scene in the 73rd minute when United teammates Dwayne De Rosario and Pontius connected for the tying goal. De Rosario made a sharp pass to Pontius and he pounded it past Ross Turnbull for the tying score. Pontius was the game's MVP.Chelsea, in the midst of a U.S. tour, had scored two straight goals to seemingly take control of game.Lampard scored in the 58th minute when he was open off an arching pass and easily booted the ball into the net for a 2-1 lead. Terry had scored a header in the 32nd minute to make it 1-1.Wondolowski, the San Jose star who leads MLS with 17 goals, took advantage when Chelsea failed to clear the ball and left an open net for a goal in the 21st minute.But just when the game appeared on the brink of being decided by penalty kicks, Johnson, of the Seattle Sounders, broke free for the winner and sparked the MLS All-Stars to a win over an international team for the first time since 2008.The MLS stars celebrated as "Philadelphia Freedom" was blasted through the stadium.

Quakes look to regroup after disappointing 2016 season


Quakes look to regroup after disappointing 2016 season

This time last year, there was a totally different kind of disappointment over at San Jose Earthquakes headquarters. Yes, they had missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but they battled to the very end and came within a couple of points of earning an invitation to the dance.

That sort of late-season run filled the franchise and fans with optimism heading into 2016.

But after an 8-12-14 mark, a ninth place finish in the Western Conference that tied for the worst since their return to MLS and the firing of a general manager midseason, the Quakes are a team faced with the idea of having to stop backwards momentum and restore faith with a fan base that is antsy for a winner on the field.

MVP: Chris Wondolowski fits the truest definition of valuable for the Earthquakes. Off the field, the forward continued and expanded his role of face and ambassador for the franchise. You’d be hard pressed to find another MLS player who exemplifies their club more than Wondolowski.

On the field, it’s almost cringe-worthy to think of where the Quakes would be without Wondolowski. As expected, for yet another season, he led the team in goals with 12 and was fourth in assists -- but his numbers are amplified by a San Jose offense that finished last in MLS with just 32 goals scored this season.

And most importantly, an offense that already struggled to find the back of the net would take an even greater (and incredibly visible) hit when Wondolowski was not in the lineup playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team, or just flat out struggling – consider that in the months when Wondolowski did not score, whether on international duty or not, the Quakes only managed 12 of the possible 36 points and scored two or more goals in a single match just three times.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: A few names come to mind, but with a back line that was ravaged by injuries peppered throughout the season, Marvell Wynne demonstrated the versatility and consistency the Quakes desperately needed. Wynne played all along Dominic Kinnear’s back line, logging the fourth-most minutes on the team behind two other DPOY candidates in David Bingham and Victor Bernardez, plus the aforementioned Wondolowski.

San Jose will have a tough choice to make with Wynne in the offseason with his contract up and a well-deserved raise in the cards -- but his age and its value proposition comes into question. Yet in 2016, Wynne was a lifeline for the Quakes.

BEST OF TIMES: With just eight wins this season, there weren’t a ton of bright spots for the Quakes. But they earned a huge moral victory for northern California soccer when they hosted the MLS All-Star Game.

For a week, San Jose, Silicon Valley and Avaya Stadium was the center of the MLS universe as the stars convened on Coleman Avenue to celebrate the sport.

WORST OF TIMES: It seems pretty crazy to remember that the Quakes actually got off to the best start in franchise history when they won back-to-back games for their first 2-0-0 start ever and a strong 3-1-2 record through their first six matches.

But injuries to the back line and up front (see: Quincy Amarikwa), made thing very difficult for Kinnear to put his best 11 on the field consistency.

Those injuries, coupled with San Jose’s inability to find any sort of traction or winning consistency away from Avaya Stadium really put the season on the down slope. The Quakes only won one road match in 2016.

THE GREAT UNKNOWN: Currently, the Quakes are a team without a general manager. And for a team that obviously needs a couple of pieces, the sooner they hand the reins to someone, the better.

The Earthquakes hired Nolan Partners, the world's largest sports executive search firm, to help identify the club's next GM while technical director Chris Leitch currently fills that void.

According to the Quakes, Nolan Partners will conduct the search both domestically and internationally, using a strict set of criteria to find the best candidates in line with the organization's long-term aspirations.

The clock is ticking though.


Not to sound overly dramatic with the one-word paragraphs, but with just 32 goals this season, and a formula dependent so much on just one player, the Quakes have to hit the drawing board hard and look to add a couple of pieces to make them more competitive up front.

A full offseason with Simon Dawkins could be beneficial – so should the resigning of Alberto Quintero.

But finding a true No. 9 to play in front of Wondolowski and allow the master to roam free underneath where he can do major damage would go a long way in making a much-needed ascent up the offensive categories.

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: For those who have resigned themselves to the idea of San Jose being a big-market, high-budget team, the focus has naturally shifted to the youth movement that should follow. The Quakes have taken steps towards that with affiliation deals in the Premier Development League (Burlingame Dragons FC) and the United Soccer League (Sacramento Republic and Reno 1868) to look and develop the next wave of Earthquakes.

The big picture revolves around when the Quakes decide to flip the switch and fully commit to young talent coming through that pipeline. In 2016, San Jose was one of the oldest teams in MLS – could 2017 be the start of the long-awaited Quakes youth movement?

After best start in franchise history, Quakes' rough season ends on low note


After best start in franchise history, Quakes' rough season ends on low note


A San Jose Earthquakes season that began with the best start in franchise history ended on Sunday with an all-too-familiar result and feeling.

A Sporting Kansas City first half penalty shot and 89th minute-goal was more than enough offense to finish the Quakes' season on a low note in what was a 2-0 loss at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City.

The Earthquakes finished the 2016 campaign with an 8-14-12 record -- their 12 losses are tied for second most since returning to San Jose after a two-year hiatus in 2008.

The shutout is also the 12th the Quakes suffered this season and San Jose has now missed the playoffs four straight years.

San Jose pressed Sporting Kansas City in the first half and was almost rewarded with a goal on both occasions.

But it was Kansas City who made the most of their opportunities and those don’t come much better than a penalty shot. 

Benny Feilhaber stepped up to the spot in the 27th minute after an awkward bounce hit Cordell Cato in the arm, forcing the referee to call for the penalty. Feilhaber beat David Bingham to the keeper's left for his seventh goal of the season.

The second half was noteworthy for its chippiness more than any real threat by San Jose to try and equalize. Referee Drew Fischer handed out five yellow cards in the half -- three to the Quakes. 

Sporting KC left the game way beyond reach for San Jose when Feilhaber found a streaking Dominic Dwyer on the right side who emphatically finished past Bingham for the 2-0 result. 

Man of the Match: Feilhaber gave San Jose fits the entire match and the Quakes had no answers for the midfielder. Feilhaber and Dwyer almost connected on a couple of other occasions that might have made the result worse for the Quakes. 

Attendance: 20,371 watched Sporting KC advance to the MLS Cup playoffs. 

Up Next: It's back to the drawing board for the Quakes who will reconvene in Tucson next season for preseason camp.